According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in construction incurred the most fatalities of any industry in the private sector in 2008, despite the fact that the number of construction fatalities that year declined 20 percent.
is responsible for safety on the jobsite -- the individual, the government, the
safety director, the worker or all of the above?
on the jobsite is responsible for safety. This simple, but often incorrectly
answered, question is from a mini-quiz as part of biweekly “Safety Stuffers,”
small fliers dispersed with weekly paychecks, created by the Mechanical
Contractors Association of Chicago to remind members of their United
Association work force of top safety concerns.
According to Stephen
Lamb, executive vice president of the MCA of Chicago, that particular safety
message is especially important.
“Effective workplace safety can only be
achieved when everyone involved takes responsibility,” he said. “Once they do,
it is easier for everyone to work together as a team and watch out for each
other. That is why the association, our
member contractors, and our union work force, UA local union 597, stand
together in our dedication to workplace safety training.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics
says workers in construction incurred the most fatalities of any industry in
the private sector in 2008, despite the fact that the number of construction
fatalities that year declined 20 percent from the previous year - from 1,204 cases in 2007 to 969 cases.
Fatality figures for 2009 have not yet been released.
“Safety must be a
top priority on every jobsite,” said Dan Bulley, senior vice president of MCA
of Chicago and head of the safety committee. “We don’t take chances with our
workforce. Union safety training, in combination with the educational programs
offered by our association, provides our contractors and workers with the
knowledge needed to work in optimal safety conditions.”
MCA of Chicago
offers safety training to member contractors
through its Certified Safety Bureau, which offers
both classroom training and online courses.
The workers at also receive a cutting-edge education. Their
training center in Mokena, Ill., is the largest pipe fitters’ learning facility
in America and is equipped with state-of-the-art training technology, including
equipment for virtual welding. Apprentices can practice welding with a heatless
rod and watch a visual simulation while wearing a specially equipped welding
“Students often use the system at lunchtime to work with it more,”
said John Leen, Local 597 training
director. “Apprentices who practice with virtual
welding learn more quickly than those who only do hands-on welding.”
These educational initiatives instill MCA of Chicago member contractors and
their union workforce with a high degree of safety awareness. This is important
to the bottom line of industry, since accidents cost American companies
billions of dollars each year. According to the 2009 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index,
the most disabling workplace injuries and illnesses in 2007 amounted to more
than $52 billion dollars in workers compensation costs.
One such “aware”
company is Scheck Industries of Countryside, Ill. Countryside has been
recognized for their excellent ongoing safety record. In both 2008 and 2009,
Scheck Industries was recognized by the Mechanical Contractors Association of
America for their excellent safety record: 1 million-plus work hours each year
with no lost work time.
million-plus hours include projects with 400 to 500 workers,” said Joe Lasky, safety director
at Scheck. “It takes a lot of training and cooperation to keep that many
workers safe on the jobsite.”
Safety is so
important to Scheck, they have developed a workplace program called “JAWS: Job
Aids for Working Safely,” which includes daily talks and other components to
help keep workers aware of safety concerns. MCA of Chicago has recognized Scheck with the
Most Innovative Safety Program Award for the program.
Lasky said their company’s employee incentive program gives safety points
to workers for every hour worked safely.
“We have a website where they can cash in their safety points and receive
polo shirts, jackets, hunting jackets and other items,” he said. “It’s our way
of providing reinforcement for workers
who are accident-free.”
“Teamwork is an essential
part of workplace safety,” Stephen Lamb added. “That teamwork can be found in
the collaboration between our association and our contractors and workers. It
can also be found in the rapport between a member contractor, their workers and
their client. We all have to look out for each other in life.”
(This article was supplied by
the Mechanical Contractors Association of Chicago.)